April 17, 2008
LOS ANGELES - UCLA hosts a three-game series against No. 10 Stanford this weekend, beginning Friday, April 18 (6 p.m.). The Bruins swept Stanford at Sunken Diamond to open Pac-10 play in 2007 and have won each of the last four meetings against the Cardinal. Stanford has recorded a 19-11-2 overall record this season and won the final two games of a three-game set at Oregon State last weekend. In a wide-open race for the Pac-10 crown, UCLA enters this weekend's action with a 3-3 Pac-10 mark. Stanford is currently tied with Arizona State for first place with a 6-3 record.
Friday, April 18 - 6 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
Stanford - TBA vs. UCLA's Tim Murphy, LHP, Jr. (3-3, 3.28)
Saturday, April 19 - 2 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
Stanford's Erik Davis, RHP, Sr. (5-1, 4.37) vs. UCLA's Charles Brewer, RHP, So. (4-3, 5.43)
Sunday, April 20 - 1 p.m. - at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium
Stanford's Jeffrey Inman, RHP, So. (5-0, 1.49) vs. UCLA's Gavin Brooks, LHP, So. (3-2, 4.97)
UCLA looks to gain ground in a competitive Pac-10 conference race this weekend, as all nine Pac-10 baseball teams boast records above .500. Arizona State and Stanford are tied at 6-3 for first place, while California (5-4) owns a half-game lead in third place over Washington (3-3), UCLA (3-3) and USC (6-6). Two-time defending national champion Oregon State (4-5) currently occupies seventh place, and Arizona and Washington State (each 3-6) play each other this weekend in Tucson, Ariz.
ON THE WEB
All UCLA home games can be listened to and viewed online at uclabruins.com. Danny Lee and Tim Wilhelm have the call at UCLA's official athletics website. Audio broadcasts of road series Oregon State (May 9-11) and California (May 23-25) will be carried live online. All remaining regular-season games, including this weekend's games against Stanford, can be followed live through CSTV's GameTracker, available at uclabruins.com.
MAKING IT HAPPEN
Junior left-hander Tim Murphy, UCLA's staff ace, enters Friday evening's ballgame with a 3-3 record and 3.28 ERA in 10 appearances (eight starts). Murphy has pitched six innings or more in seven of his eight starts. The Vista, Calif., resident leads all Pac-10 pitchers with 66 strikeouts. Murphy ranks second in the conference with 57.2 innings pitched. The left-hander hurled a complete game shutout against Bethune-Cookman on March 1 in the Urban Invitational (ESPN2), and followed that performance one week later allowing one hit in seven scoreless innings, totaling a season-high 11 strikeouts against Saint Mary's.
The top four hitters in UCLA's batting lineup last weekend - Alden Carrithers, Jermaine Curtis, Brandon Crawford and Casey Haerther - went a combined 29-for-52 (.558) in three games, totaling four home runs, two triples, eight doubles, 21 RBI and 18 runs. In the Bruins' 18-7 rout of UC Riverside on Saturday, three hitters (Carrithers, Crawford and Haerther) totaled four hits and Curtis registered three hits. On the season, those four Bruins have combined to hit at a .337 clip (171-for-508).
Alden Carrithers has hit safely in 27 of 32 games this season, including 21 of the Bruins' last 23 contests. Leading the team with a .392 batting average, Carrithers has posted one 11-game hit streak and one 10-game hit streak this spring. In four games last week, the senior from Portland, Ore., went 8-for-17 with five runs and seven RBI. Carrithers ranks fifth among all Pac-10 players in batting average, first in stolen bases (14) and fifth in hits (49). Likewise, the Bruins' hot-hitting left fielder continues to lead the team in all the above offensive categories.
Casey Haerther went 10-for-15 (.667) in three weekend games against UC Riverside and finished the week going 11-for-20 (.550) with three home runs, nine RBI and six runs. Haerther has hit at a .453 clip in UCLA's last 12 games, totaling four home runs, 11 runs, 16 RBI and eight doubles in that span. The Chatsworth, Calif., resident went 3-for-4 on Friday, 4-for-6 on Saturday and 3-for-5 on Sunday.
Brandon Crawford has posted a .333 batting average in 32 starts this season. The Bruins' starting shortstop has collected 43 hits in 129 at-bats, tallying four home runs, 28 RBI, 26 runs and eight stolen bases. Crawford's batting average is tied for the second-highest mark on the team, and the junior has also logged six doubles and three triples. The Pleasanton, Calif., resident was one of 75 players to be named to the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. Crawford was also named a preseason All-American by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).
The Bruins have posted a 14-2 record when scoring five or more runs. When scoring three runs or fewer, UCLA has gone 1-10. UCLA has scored 10 or more runs in eight games this spring. The Bruins scored a season-high 22 runs against Cal State Northridge (Feb. 26) and cranked out a season-best 26 hits versus UC Riverside (April 12) earlier this season. Both of those totals are the most since May 25, 1997, when UCLA totaled 31 hits in a 22-2 NCAA Regional victory against Oklahoma State.
A LOOK BACK
UCLA swept Stanford at Sunken Diamond in 2007, marking the first time in which the Cardinal had been swept in a three-game series at Sunken Diamond since 1991 (71 consecutive series). Alden Carrithers led the Bruins with a .600 average (6-for-10, six runs) and Cody Decker went 6-for-14 (.429) with three home runs, 10 RBI and four runs. With the sweep, UCLA won 10 of its first 11 Pac-10 games.
THE BOOK ON BROOKS
Left-hander Gavin Brooks, slated to start for the Bruins on Sunday, has recorded a 3-2 record and 4.97 ERA in seven starts. Brooks has tallied 35 strikeouts in 41.2 innings, limiting opponents to a .234 batting average. In his last two starts, the southpaw from Vista, Calif., has earned two wins, posting a 2.20 ERA and limiting hitters to a .167 average (12 strikeouts in 16.1 innings). Last Sunday, Brooks allowed four runs (two earned) against UC Riverside, striking out eight batters in eight innings.
KEEPING IT GOING
Jermaine Curtis hit at a .467 clip in four games one week ago, going 7-for-15 with three runs, three RBI, one double and one triple. Curtis, who posted a .500 batting average in three wins against UC Riverside, went 3-for-5 in the Bruins' 18-7 win on Saturday afternoon. Having started at third base in all 30 games, Curtis has registered a .296 batting average and .429 on-base percentage, collecting 26 runs, 15 RBI and 10 doubles. In six Pac-10 games, Curtis is hitting a .400 clip (10-for-25) with two doubles and one triple.
UCLA has posted a 2-2 record in four extra-inning ballgames this season. The Bruins did not play any extra-inning games in 2007. Two of the team's first four games this year were extra-inning affairs. UCLA lost a 12-inning game, 3-2, to Oklahoma in the nightcap of a season-opening doubleheader on Feb. 23. The Bruins outlasted UC Santa Barbara, 5-4, in 13 innings on Feb. 27, a game that lasted five hours and 35 minutes. UCLA edged Arizona, 4-3, in 10 innings on March 28 in the Bruins' Pac-10 season opener. UC Irvine downed the Bruins, 6-5, in 10 innings on April 8 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins last played an extra inning game of 13 innings or longer on April 18, 2003, when UCLA won at Arizona State, 8-7 (13 innings).
UCLA's offense erupted for five home runs in an 18-7 win over UC Riverside on April 12. Led by Casey Haerther's two blasts, the most by any Bruin in a game this spring, UCLA was able to record its first five-home-run game since March 5, 2006, when five different players went yard in a 13-2 victory at N.C. State. The Bruins finished the three-game set against UC Riverside hitting at a .451 clip, collecting 32 runs, 51 hits, 12 doubles, three triples and five homers. UCLA stole seven bases on eight attempts against the Highlanders and logged a .488 on-base percentage.
Junior Ryan Babineau has been named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. Babineau has caught more games than any Pac-10 catcher (140), making 135 starts. Babineau has committed two errors in 1,106 chances (.998 pct.), throwing out 39 of 94 attempted base stealers (41.5 pct). This season, opponents have attemped to steal off Babineau 12 times (five successfully). As a freshman, he earned All-Pac-10 team honors. Last spring, Babineau was named an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection.
HAERTHER MAKES HISTORY
First baseman Casey Haerther recorded a UCLA and Pac-10 Conference record seven hits in seven plate appearances in a 20-8 win at Arizona on March 29. Haerther registered career highs with four doubles, four runs and four RBI. The Chatsworth, Calif., resident finished the weekend going 9-for-14 (.643) with four doubles, one home run, six RBI and 16 total bases. In the final two games at Arizona, Haerther raised his batting average 85 points (.203 to .288).
Left-hander Brendan Lafferty has made a team-high 17 appearances through 32 games. Lafferty has logged a 1-1 record and 4.33 ERA in 35.1 innings, the fourth-highest total on the club. Lafferty has collected 31 strikeouts and issued 16 walks. Lafferty's most dominant outing of the season came March 2 at USC, as the left-hander allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. The Riverside, Calif., resident has competed with UCLA longer than any other player (only player from the 2005 squad). Lafferty made 15 appearances in 2005, redshirted in 2006, and led the team with 25 appearances last season.
PROJECTIONS AND PREDICTIONS
Baseball America tabbed UCLA as its preseason favorite to win the Pac-10 Conference. The national baseball publication predicts the Bruins to finish ahead of Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State, respectively. Shortstop Brandon Crawford, outfielder Gabe Cohen and left-handed starter Gavin Brooks were named preseason All-Pac-10 selections by Baseball America. The publication listed Rob Rasmussen as one of the five top newcomers and pegged Crawford and left-hander Tim Murphy as the second- and sixth-best pro prospects in this year's draft class. Baseball America listed Jermaine Curtis as the conference's best defensive third baseman and Brandon Crawford as the Pac-10's best defensive shortstop.
TWO DOLLAR TUESDAYS
All season long, tickets to Tuesday evening games at UCLA's Jackie Robinson Stadium cost just two dollars. The remaining Tuesday night games include non-conference opponents UNLV (April 22) and San Diego (May 6). The Bruins have tallied a 2-2 mark in four home games on Tuesday evenings this season.
THE POLL IN THE PAC
UCLA was selected third out of nine teams in the Pac-10 preseason coaches' poll. The Bruins were picked to finish behind Arizona and Arizona State, respectively. Arizona picked up six of nine first-place votes, and Arizona State recorded the other three first-place votes. Last season, UCLA was picked fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and finished third with a 14-10 mark in Pac-10 ballgames.
Left-hander Matt Grace has limited the opposition to a paltry .158 batting average in nine relief appearances. Grace, who hails from nearby Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., has registered eight strikeouts in 11.2 innings, surrendering just three runs and six hits. In the resumed portion of UCLA's win over Cal State Northridge (completed April 15), Grace hurled two shutout innings in relief as the Bruins coasted to a 22-2 win. The freshman southpaw captured CIF Division IV Player of the Year honors as a junior at Palos Verdes High School in 2006.
BACK TO WORK
Entering his fourth season at the helm of the program, head coach John Savage has the Bruin baseball program headed in the right direction. UCLA finished its 2007 season with its first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals since 2000. The Bruins dropped both games to Cal State Fullerton, by scores of 12-2 and 2-1. UCLA advanced to the Super Regionals after winning the Long Beach Regional, recording wins over No. 3-seed Pepperdine (7-3), No. 4-seed Illinois-Chicago (3-1) and No. 1-seed Long Beach State (7-4) at Blair Field. Last year, the Bruins advanced to the postseason for the second consecutive season. No UCLA baseball team has made three straight postseason appearances.
Sophomore outfielder/left-handed pitcher Justin Uribe will miss the remainder of the 2008 season with a left elbow injury (torn UCL). Uribe's season-ending injury will require surgery. Freshman left-hander Rob Rasmussen will miss two weeks with a fractured left foot (return expected early May). Rasmussen sustained the injury on a line drive in the third inning against UC Santa Barbara (Feb. 27). Freshman right-hander Dan Klein remains inactive with shoulder soreness. Freshman outfielder Jeff Rapoport (shoulder) missed the 2007 season with a shoulder injury and may return later this season. Freshman right-hander Erik Goeddel (elbow) and junior right-hander Tim Schlatter (shoulder) remain sidelined.